Traumatic Brain Injury Signature Wound of Iraq and Afghanistan
The Los Angeles Times Sunday called tramatic brain injury (TBI) the “signature wound” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 130,000 troops suffering such brain damage. But hope — in the form of a better helmet — may be on the horizon.
Two researchers are claiming that making some small changes in headgear — adding a 1/8 of an inch more padding and having solidiers wear helmets one size larger than usual — our soldiers’ “chances of avoiding traumatic brain injury would be improved by 24 percent,” The Times reported.
The finding was made by a physicist, Willy Moss, and an engineer, Michael King, who are part of the Lawrence Livermore Nationa Laboratory in California. The men have been picked by the Army and the Joint IED (improvised explosive devices) Defeat Organization to do a $540,000 study on TBI caused by bombs.
The Pentagon held a press conference last Tuesday and told reporters that the new findings will be incorporated into the research that the Army is conducting on several fronts.
Let’s hope our military personnel would be willing to use the new helmets, because 50 percent of soldiers aleady wear a large helmet. The extra large is nine ounces heavier, according to The Times, putting it at three pounds and 14 ounces. Soldiers have balked at adding extra weight to their helmets in the past.
The problem with current Army helmets is that they are designed to shield against direct hits, but are less effective protecting soldiers from the blast waves from explosions.
Helmet design is under a major review. For example, last year researchers at MIT recommended that face shields could help protect soldiers from pressure waves. That’s because the face is the entrance that blast waves go through to get to the brain.
The Times story had another encouraging tidbit. It said that the Marines last year set up a Concussion Care Center at the Marine’s major base in Afghanistan. The centers has Navy doctors, a chaplain and a psychologist. Now that’s smart thinking.